From the Rector's Desk:
"Come On In, The Fire's Fine!"
A Call to Deeper Discipleship and Contagious Faith
If we look seriously at the Scriptures, and if we're honest, we hear a lot of awfully challenging things! We're tempted, like Jesus' disciples, to turn away to an easier path. But like his first disciples, we find that no one else has "words of eternal life."
People's last words often summarize what they most earnestly desire. Jesus' final instructions to his disciples add to the challenges of following him: Go make more disciples! This makes most of us squirm.
Begun as lessons learned in facing the daunting task of inspiring her own children's faith, the principles Marcia Lebhar will share apply to disciples at every stage of life. Come join us for a day of encouragement... encouragement to persevere and go deeper in our own relationships with God, and a look at some ways our faith can become contagious.
(November 21, 2018)
Everyone, regardless of faith, is grateful for the good things which they enjoy...and also for the bad things which they avoided. What makes the Christian faith different is the admonition to "give thanks in all circumstances," as Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica. It runs counter to human nature to be grateful in the midst of painful and difficult circumstances.
Two important comments on this strange gratitude. First, Paul's instruction is to give thanks in all circumstances, not for all circumstances. Plainly, many negative circumstances are evil; our thanks is not for evil, rather we are instructed to be thankful in all circumstances.
Thus the second note: our thanks is directed to God. To thank God in the midst of pain and suffering is to acknowledge that He is sovereign and able to work through the most trying of circumstances. Many wise saints through the years have realized that God's greatest and deepest work in their lives have come through the hardest places.
Once again we can see that our feelings fail to point us in godly ways: "...we live by faith, not by sight."
I pray that you pause to offer thanks to God in ALL circumstances in your lives.
God bless you. Thank you for the blessing you are.
(November 1, 2018)
On November 1 each year, the Church celebrates All Saints Day. We remember, honor, and, in some ways, seek to emulate the men and women who have lived faithfully in witness to the saving power of Christ, often at the cost of their lives. (In Greek the word for witness is also translated martyr.)
The interior of the orthodox church pictured above reflects icons or depictions of those who through history have been godly examples. These are not for decoration but to remind worshipers of the "great cloud of witnesses" which the writer of Hebrews describes.
Typically, when I consider some of lives and stories of great saints through the centuries, I can get discouraged. "I could never be like that," is what usually goes through my head.
Let me let you in on some important facts about the saints:
(May 10, 2018)
Luke records how Jesus' Ascension took place:
"So when they [the disciples] had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.'" (Acts 1:6-11 ESV)
Notice the disciples' concerns with the kingdoms of this world and Jesus' re-directing them to the advance of God's kingdom with the help of the Holy Spirit.
The angels' words speak to us down to the present day: Why are we looking up? It's time to look outward to the fields that are white to harvest, because Jesus is coming again.
Come Holy Spirit!
The National Day of Prayer
(May 3, 2018)
A brief history of the National Day of Prayer:
"In 1775 the Continental Congress allocated a time for prayer in forming a new nation. Over the years, there have been calls for a day of prayer, including from President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. On April 17, 1952, President Harry Truman signed a bill proclaiming the National Day of Prayer into law in the United States. President Reagan amended the law in 1988, designating the first Thursday of May each year as the National Day of Prayer."
There is no privilege or power given to the children of God greater than the invitation of Jesus to "ask in my name." Our tendency not to pray is due to our deep-seated self sufficiency inherited from our first parents in the garden.
Hear again the open-handed offer from the King of kings: "In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. (Jn. 16:23-24)
With prayers for us all,
A Note From the Vicar
(April 1, 2018)
C.S. Lewis like so many others recognized that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was something entirely new from anything in history.
It is such a completely unique event that it demands a response from all who hear of it. Sharing that message is our privilege and duty. Eternity rests on our response to the resurrection.
Something perfectly new in the history of the universe had happened. Christ had defeated death. The door, which had always been locked, had for the very first time been forced open. This is something quite distinct from mere ghost-survival. I don't mean that [the first disciples] disbelieved in ghost-survival. On the contra-ry, they believed in it so firmly that, on more than one occasion, Christ had had to assure them that He was not a ghost. The point is that while believing in survival they yet regarded the Resurrection as something totally different and new. The Resurrection narratives are not a picture of survival after death; they record how a totally new mode of being has arisen in the universe. Something new had appeared in the universe; as new as the first coming of organic life. This Man, after death, does not get divided into 'ghost' and 'corpse'. A new mode of being has arisen. That is the story. What are we going to make of it?
--C. S. Lewis, "What Are We To Make of Jesus Christ?" from God in the Dock.
A Note From the Vicar
Lent has a way of stripping away distractions and helping us remember what is most important.
I’ve been reflecting on the purpose of church: why has the Lord called us out? (The Greek word for church means “called out ones.”) What is his foremost aim? What is most important? In his first letter, Peter wrote a statement that is both soaring and simple, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet. 2:9). Note the precious words he uses: chosen, royal, holy, belonging to God. No words could better describe the position of extraordinary privilege given us in Christ: we are stunningly blessed.
But that position has a role: we get to declare, to proclaim the praises/excellencies of the One who did the calling. So we have been called by God to declare—in word and action—the praises of our rescuer. It’s another way of saying, share the “good news.”
That is what disciples/followers of Jesus do.
Thankfully, we are not alone. We have one another to help us and encourage us. Best of all, we have the Holy Spirit of God to guide us and strengthen us.
Come, Holy Spirit of God and rekindle our first love for your saving grace in our lives so that our words and our ways draw attention to the One who has called us out of darkness into his light. Amen.